I miss the days when it was just Benjamin and I.
It had just gotten so easy. Just the two of us, with no one to answer to… I could spoil him to the ends of the Earth (without even realizing I was). He could get all of my attention, all of the time. Now, we are a family of five and everything is exposed. My weaknesses as a parent. Benjamin’s behavior issues. All of it is on the table for Seth, Lily and Cohen to see. And somehow, we have to merge our world with theirs.
But we are. Day by day. Week by week. Talk after talk between two concerned parents, madly in love with each other and unable to put a magic Band-Aid on anything. The adjusting continues and I wonder, both of us wonder, how long it will take before everyone just kind of settles in. It has been over one year, but in some ways everything still feels so new.
We are struggling with Benjamin.
It seems, without a doubt that he has ADD or ADHD. The symptoms are all there and becoming more pronounced as he gets older. The non stop nail-biting. The constant fidgeting. His insecurities and feelings of inadequacies in school. His extreme inability to just “listen the first time.” His brilliance. His artistic streak. His awesome energy and intensity.
What’s funny is that in spite of the challenges, I wouldn’t change him for the world. I love all of those things about him. I love that he is so exceptionally unique. but I hate that he suffers because of it. I hate that there is no place for him to comfortably fit within the traditional school system. His “high-energy”, as they call it, has tested every one of his teachers. Even seasoned teachers throw their hands up in the air and say literally, “I don’t know what else to do. I’ve tried everything.”
But they all add, “He means well. He is a sweet boy but he just can’t listen.”
At home, Benjamin is testing Seth, too. Every day he challenges him. Seth, who has the patience of a Saint, is starting to feel frustrated. And I can’t blame him. If the tables were turned, I can’t imagine how I would react. We worry about Benjamin and also about Lily and Cohen. We fear his attention seeking behavior is marginalizing Lily and Cohen.
The house feels sometimes like a psychological mine field to me. I am always concerned that by giving my attention to one child, I will hurt the other. It’s a constant struggle for me. I am just so torn between wanting to protect my baby over all else and then realizing how magnificent it is to have Seth, Lily and Cohen here to help Benjamin and I evolve into a less self-centered pair, lost in our own world of Two. I have to let go and let him be hurt, let him realize that no, “you can’t say that or treat people that way, or they push back.”
Now is the hard part, Seth says. The Honeymoon is over and we have to work, and it won’t be easy. We find the really good days propel us forward and the really bad days bring us down. But we get up and do it all over again, driven by the fact that there is no other place we would rather be. This is it, for both of us, and while it’s not blissful and perfect every day, it is always remarkable and lovely that we are all here together.
This is our family. We are a family. And the universe just stuck us all in a blender. Eventually we’ll mix right up.
This week, it’s off to Children’s Hospital and a behavioral specialist for Benjamin. I can’t seem to find any decent support groups online for parents of children with ADD and ADHD. If you know of any, please leave them in the comments.